Why I am reading a book about healing a marriage... after we filed for divorce. (Besides the fact that Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. is a genius.)
Like many other divorced, divorcing, struggling, contemplating couples out there, I found myself at a low point in my marriage some years back. I (like too many other women) felt like I was to blame. The problem was clearly ME.
I was so anxious all the time, so distraught, that I secretly saw a dr. about anxiety medication. I went to the extremes of making up reasons to need a babysitter for a couple hours to drop my little guys off and attend appointments. I wanted NO ONE to know this battle I had and couldn’t face even my family. ESPECIALLY, my husband.
Hiding the heart monitor testing accessories for 2 days proved to be challenging but doable. Hiding the medication in my sock drawer was a little easier. Living that life… unbearable. I sought out a therapist. I needed a resource before I spontaneously combusted. The calming effect this outlet gave me changed my life. The first day I sat on that couch, I cried for the first 10 minutes of my session just to release the tension and fear and shame. And happiness. I remember being so happy to have someone look at me and actually see me.
She would read to me from this book- Getting The Love You Want. A Guide For Couples. By Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. I came home with a print out one day… 10 characteristics of a conscious marriage. If anything was clear to me at all during these days, it was that our marriage was not conscious. After a couple sessions and a few monumental unveilings of myself, we decided it was time to tell my husband about my secrets. I could not heal this without him.
To make a long story short… We’re almost divorced. My pleading fell on deaf ears. Our counseling session yielded no fruitful results. Our marriage continued to deteriorate. I checked out. He was already gone. And now here we are.
Recently, I stumbled upon that very same book. I was surprised by my desperate need to make it mine. Luckily for me, it was in a pile of donated/free books. Mine for the taking. Right there at the yoga studio that my therapist had suggested I start attending. She led me to that studio. I had spent the last 18 months or so changing my life in that yogi space and here, among meditation books, yoga books and spiritual guides, sat this book about love. The book. Yes Destiny, I am listening. I will take the book.
So… why am I reading a book about how to fix a broken marriage when I already chose to divorce? And why have I spent many nights up past bedtime getting in one more chapter before I entered dreamland? Why am I desperate for this book and its knowledge? What good is it going to do me now, working on these couple’s activities, wrapped up in a snuggie… alone?
The answer is Power.
Power to change my destiny.
Power to change the future for me. The marriage is not salvageable. But my future is.
For those of us who don’t get to the other side of successful marital/couples counseling, we are often left with these voids inside of us, unanswered questions, unfulfilled desires and quite frankly, odds stacked against us that a happy future relationship will present itself.
I think of it as “unfinished business”. Like one of my favorite childhood movies Casper! Ghosts have unfinished business. So do us awesome divorced/divorcing people. We live in between worlds until we make a jump to a new relationship. We didn’t get the benefits of that salvaged relationship. We didn’t get to see it work out. We didn’t get to the part where you live happily ever after. I beg the question- what makes you think you are going to find true, sustainable happiness in your next relationship without these tools and this knowledge?
All too often we leave a relationship thinking the root of the issue is that person. A new person will take care of that problem! Realistically and unfortunately- we must take accountability for how we contributed to the ending of the marriage. Unresolved conflicts will follow you, even when your spouse no longer does. The next lucky contestant just might be “the one”. Do you really want to be unprepared and incapable of nurturing and harvesting that miracle?
The answer for me- is No. No way in hell am I going to subject myself to that again.
So I committed myself to reading every last page. Doing every activity to the extent possible. Learning how to stay “checked in” for the long haul. Learning how to make a safe place out of a relationship instead of an empty sea of loneliness. Learning how to identify myself and my needs and my desires. Learning how to be that safe place for another. Learning how to trust in the future and its possibilities. Learning why Harville is such a bad ass…
Sometimes what we need most, can only be found in something we thought we left behind. Sure, there are plenty of resources for Divorced people to cope. To make it another day. To build a better life. But I have a real issue with limiting my growth and learning under the Divorced title. The title that threatens to define you through the end of days….
I choose to rebel against that definition and define my own path towards my future. It’s my divorce. I’ll read about getting the love I want with full intention and resolve to do exactly that. Because we don’t get Divorced to stay Divorced. We get Divorced to become limitless.
Ultimately, we get Divorced… for Love.